How You Made Them Feel

I’ve learned that even
when I have pains, I don’t have to be one …
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.
~Maya Angelou
on her 70th birthday, citing a quote from Carl Buehner

I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewings even if I didn’t know

the deceased, to press the moist hands

of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,

what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create

from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer

healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.
~Julie Kasdorf– “What I Learned from my Mother”

Usually a mom knows best about these things — how to love others when and how they need it and how to ease pain, not become one.  We don’t always get it right though, and dads can do it better.

Showing up with food is always a good thing but it is the showing up part that is the real food;  bringing along a cake is simply the icing.

This is a good reminder that as a doctor,
my usefulness has tended to depend on another’s suffering.
No illness, no misery, no symptoms and I’m out of a job.
I can only hope that someday that might be the case.
What a world it would be, especially as now suffering is universal.

And then I can still be a mom and grandmom
even if there is no more doctor work to be done:
….if I’d known it could help, I’d have baked a cake and shown up with it…

3 thoughts on “How You Made Them Feel

  1. The ‘giving of self’ is the most underestimated appreciated gift that we can offer to any person. It is similar to what Jesus did, by thought, by action, by word,
    as he strove to assuage those he saw who were afflicted by pain — physical, emotional and, perhaps the most grievous, – spiritual pain: that feeling of utter aloneness, vulnerability, hopelessness, and even shame. Jesus knew that feeling all too well – almost from the cradle to the cross, unto His temporary grave. When that feeling overwhelms me, I feel that, if I can just bare my soul, crawl to Him on my hands and knees and, once there in His presence, know and believe that all will be well. He already knew! My pain will be temporary. But, I know from His gift of faith and trust, that all WILL BE well. He is in charge. Of everything. At all times and in all situations.
    Deo Gratias!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such kind, simple, wisdom, as always, dear gentle Doctor Emily. : ) Thank you for who you are and the blessings you are to all who get to “encounter you” …if only on our screens!! A delightful gift to all! Andrea… “Andreamer” ….Andreaming!!

    Liked by 1 person

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